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Wonder Oven - A Bean Bag that Cooks - Video

I attended the Hurricane Preparedness Fair at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston recently.  Last year, there were two of us at...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Wonder Oven Baby Back Ribs

It's been so darn hot in Houston this week that I just haven't wanted to use the oven.  Although I have used my Instant Pot (I might even call it my Wonder Pot) to cook the ribs, today I decided to cook one of my favorite meals in my wonder oven.  Baby Back ribs.

I started out by rubbing jerk seasoning on the ribs, and cutting them so the pieces would fit in my pot.

I cut them with about 3 ribs per piece.  I was able to stand the first 3 pieces up, and then pressed the next  two pieces on top.  They're really crowded in there, but that's okay.
I bought this cool stainless steel pot with the lid attached last year, and honestly, I haven't used it until today.  The lid has a silicone gasket, so the heat and juices should collect in this pot; and the best thing is that I didn't have to put parchment paper or aluminum foil on the top to keep the condensation out.

I had to squeeze the ribs to fit in the pot, but that's okay, because when using the wonder oven, you don't want extra air in your pot.

The stock pot I used was big enough that I had room to add a smaller stainless steel pot, so I filled it with small red potatoes and added some water.  I didn't cover this pot with foil because I don't care if the potatoes have hot water dropped on them.

There was still some wiggle room in the pot, so I added two pint-sized canning jars and allowed some of the water to fill them up.  This keeps the meat and potato containers from flipping over during boiling.

Wish I'd have thought to add some green beans, bacon and onion to one of those pint jars!  Next time I'll do that.

I bought this stainless steel pot (shown on the right) at my local Dollar General for about $10.   The lid just kind of sits there on the top, so I rigged up a couple of small bungee cords and hooked them on each handle, running the cord through the handle of the lid.  I thought that might help keep the steam in better when it starts to boil.

Have you noticed that I like stainless steel?  I really do.  One of my first sets of pans was stainless steel, and although I use iron skillets a lot, too, they are just not good for wonder oven cooking.  The stainless steel doesn't rust, and it's a good thickness for the wonder oven.

With everything now in the pot, I turned the burner on high and waited for it to boil.

Once it started boiling, I set the timer for 15 minutes.

When the cooking time was up, I lifted the pot carefully and placed it in the wonder oven.  I pulled the oven around the pot so that there was contact with every part of the pot.  I put the wonder oven top on,  and made sure it was pushed down, and just because this pot is so big, I put a couple of cookbooks on top to keep the top piece of the wonder oven pressing against the lid of the pot.

With dinner planning out of the way, I proceeded to start breakfast and unload the dishwasher.  After church today, I will pull the ribs out of the pot, slather them with barbecue sauce, and stick them under the broiler for just a few minutes to brown them.  They would be fine to eat the way they are, but I like the stickiness of the broiled sauce on top.   I will probably just take the potatoes as they are, drain them, smash them with a fork, and add some butter and salt.

When I first started using the wonder oven, I was a little afraid to cook meat in it.  Then I realized that water boils at 212 degrees and the high heat on most slow cookers is 190 degrees.  If I was willing to put meat in a slow cooker, I shouldn't have a problem with a wonder oven.  After all, this pot has boiled for 15 minutes at 212 degrees, and the wonder oven will hold the temperature for about 12  hours.  I can't wait to get home and get those babies on my plate! 

Later ...  The ribs weren't browned, but with the seasoning on them, they really did look good enough to eat just like they were.  The meat was tender, but not falling off the bone, and that's the way they should be.    This picture shows ribs with barbecue sauce after about 5 minutes under the broiler.  I just smashed the potatoes and added butter, salt and pepper.

I'd say this was another success.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

My Fast and Favorite French Bread

This easy French bread recipe can be enjoyed with a big slab of butter two hours from the time you decide to make it.  The recipe comes from Chef In Training.    At the bottom of these wonder oven instructions are ingredients and instructions straight from Nikki's website.

To modify this for the wonder oven, just follow the basic directions used for other wonder oven recipes.  Mix the dough, and when it's time to form it into loaves, just grease the pot or can you're using, and put a ball of dough inside.  Make sure the dough only comes about one-third of the way, because you'll allow it to rise before you start to cook it, and then it will rise a bit more.

1.  Put the dough in the greased pan
2.  Cover with parchment paper, and/or aluminum foil if you prefer
3.  Put a rubber band around the neck of the pot to keep the paper/foil secure.  You don't want condensation dripping onto your bread.
4.  Set the bread pot into a bigger stock pot.
Image result for wonder oven bread
Photo by myfoodstoragecookbook.com

5.  Fill extra cans or jars with water and set them inside the pot, too.  This will keep the bread pot from falling on its side when the water starts to boil.
6.  Put enough water in the stock pot to fill about half way.  You don't want so much that the water will boil up to the top of your bread pan.
7.  Put the pot on the stove and turn on the heat.
8.  Put the lid on the top and DO NOT TAKE IT OFF!
9.  Once you hear it start to boil, set the timer for 15 minutes.
10.  After 15 minutes, lift the pot from the stove and nestle it in your wonder oven.  Pull the sides of the oven up around the pot so that fabric and beads are touching the entire surface.
11.  Put the top piece of the wonder oven on the top and press it down, too.
12.  If you have your wonder oven in a tub, which I highly recommend, partly for the safety issue, snap the lid on the top, too.  If your lid won't fit on the top, you might want to just add something heavy to the top. A couple of books will do.  What you're doing is just making sure that top is keeping contact with your pot lid.

Now, the fun part.  Go about your day.  In 3-4 hours, check your bread.  Remember that this pot is still going to be HOT, so you'll want to use oven gloves.

It's great to know that you can bake bread without heating up the kitchen, but also nice to know you have options if you don't have electricity (as long as you have another option for 15 minutes of heating the water).

My grandkids love it because it's crustless.  No more wasting the crust!

Photo:  Sherida Radigan @
My Year of Living on Food Storage

Thank you, Chef In Training for this wonderful and easy recipe.

French Bread
  • 7 cups flour, divided
  • 3 cups warm water
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1½ packages yeast
  1. Mix 3 and ½ cups flour with all ingredients. Let sit one hour.
  2. Add remaining 3 and ½ cups flour (one at a time) and knead till dough forms a ball (dough sticky).
  3. Cover with a damp cloth for 30 minutes.
  4. Divide and shape into 2-3 oblong loaves (long and narrow). Place on greased cookie sheet. Slit top with scissors ½ down diagonally.
  5. Paint top with slightly beaten egg whites. Let sit for 8-10 minutes.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes.
Recipe by Chef in Training at https://www.chef-in-training.com/2012/05/french-bread/

Friday, July 21, 2017

Instant Pot "Stuffed Peppers"

Image result for yellow, orange, red peppers

About two years ago I bought an electric pressure cooker, and along with my wonder oven, it has replaced my slow cooker.  Oh, my, the fun things I can do with it, and all in one pot.

I grew up using a pressure cooker.  My grandma always used one, and although I learned to have a lot of respect for it and why it's important to be careful with it, I was not afraid to use one.  My only disaster as a young wife was cooking beans in it.  I hadn't thought about the foam and pressure the beans would create, and it not only blew the plug but blew bean guts all over my kitchen ceiling!

Awhile back,  I bought a package of three peppers - red, orange, and yellow.  One night I was trying to figure out what to cook for dinner, and decided I'd try to make stuffed peppers with them in the "Instant Pot."   My husband loves this meal and it's something I make at least once a month now.  Have I mentioned how picky he is?  Having him say he LOVES it is really something!

Here's the process:

1.  Cook the rice in the pot for about 10 minutes on simmer, and then remove the rice to add later.

2.  Cook the ground beef in the pot.  Once it's cooked, drain the ground beef, if necessary, and add the rice.  My recipe calls for 1/3 cup.

3.  Stir and add the rest of the ingredients.  Mine comes straight from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, and is so simple.  Basically, 3/4 lb. ground beef, 1/3 cup cooked rice, can of tomatoes, 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning.  Add peppers.  When done, add cheese.   These are ingredients I always have on hand.

4.  Cut up your peppers - doesn't matter what color they are - and just place them in the pot.  The first time, I pushed them to the bottom of the pot and scooped the meat on top of them.  Last time I made them, I just laid them on top.

5.  Sometimes I just put the pot on simmer and let it cook for about 15 minutes.  Other times, I've set the pressure on low and just cooked it for 3 minutes.  Just depends on how big of a hurry I'm in.

6.  Once it's finished cooking, I add some grated cheddar cheese to the top and put the lid back on just to let it melt while I'm setting the table.   Because my husband likes potatoes, I usually cube and fry them to go along with the main course.Image result for stuffed pepper casserole

I love these one-pot wonders!  Using the Instant Pot has so many advantages - I just have to wash one pot; it's fast; it's easy; and keeps my kitchen cool.  I could do the same thing in the wonder oven, too, but I'd have to cook the ground beef and rice ahead of time, and this is just such a quick recipe, that there's really no need to let it cook all day.

Wonder-ful Meatloaf

The wonder oven really comes in handy when I can't be home, or when I don't want to heat up the house with the oven.  Seems like the older I get, I get more nervous about leaving home with things plugged in.  Maybe that has something to do with our RV catching on fire right next to our house last year.  We could have lost everything if we hadn't been home.

Recently I decided to try cooking meatloaf in the wonder oven.  I've realized I can really cook just about anything I want if I think about it long enough!    I mixed up my usual meatloaf recipe and put the mixture in a greased stainless-steel pot I purchased just for the wonder oven.  This "pot" is actually a stainless steel utensil holder.  If you don't have one, you could also use a can.  In fact, you could use smaller individual cans and make individual meatloaves.   Get creative with what you have.

I put parchment paper over the top and secured it with a rubber band.  Some people use aluminum foil, but I don't like having it touch my food.  The parchment paper has enough wax in it that it keeps the condensation from falling back into the food.  If you're unsure, go ahead and use the aluminum foil, or even better, put the foil on top of the parchment paper so it's not touching the food.

Next, I placed that pot of meatloaf inside my stock pot.  I filled a couple of pint jars with water and placed them in the stock pot, too, to help keep the meatloaf pot from flipping over during cooking.

Almost as an afterthought, I decided to cut up potatoes and put them inside those pint jars.  I could have used quart jars, but two pint jars worked just fine.

So now I had the meatloaf container and the jars filled with potatoes inside the stock pot.  I added enough water to fill it about half way.  Then I placed the lid on top, turned up the heat, and brought it to a boil.  Once it started boiling, I set my timer for 15 minutes.  Water boils at 212 degrees, and it's important to keep that temperature for 15 minutes so you don't risk food poisoning.

After 15 minutes, I placed the pot in my wonder oven and made sure that the beads surrounded the pot.  It's important for the beads to touch as much of the pot as possible to help retain the heat.  I placed the "lid" of the wonder oven on top and left it for several hours.

When we were ready to eat, I took the pot out of the wonder oven.  It was still too hot to touch without a hot pad.  I turned the meatloaf pot on it's side and it slid right out onto the plate.  It was fully cooked, but I missed the catsup and green pepper on the top.  I cut the meatloaf in half, lengthwise, so it looked like two mounds.  Then I brushed catsup on the top of each half, and placed some green pepper on top before sticking it under the broiler for just a few minutes to finish off the catsup.

The potatoes were cooked, so I put them in a bowl while I made gravy out of the juice from the meatloaf pan and the potato water.

My husband is a pretty picky eater, but I asked what he thought about the results.  He said he thought it was just as good as when it cooked in the oven.  The texture was firm, but moist, and definitely not dried out.  We both proclaimed the process a success!

Image result for meatloaf mounds